Chesapeake Gold Farm introdcues new line of cheeses
NORTH EAST — “Not every company is going to want to be in Philadelphia. They’re looking for the quality of life and talented workforce that Cecil County can offer.”
That’s the message Select Greater Philadelphia Executive Director Matt Cabrey delivered Wednesday morning to the Economic Development Commission (EDC), an appointed body that includes a who’s who of the county’s political, administrative and business leaders.
With the support of county administration, Cecil County Economic Development Director Chris Moyer has been doggedly working on establishing relationships in the Philadelphia region as a way to push the county into a market that it has never ventured into before. Cabrey, who leads a economic development marketing organization that attracts companies to the greater Philadelphia region, is one of those new connections.
“I’ll be candid and transparent with the team: Cecil County has not been high on our radar screen,” Cabrey said. “Cecil County is included in the metropolitan statistical area … [but] you are part of the neighborhood and we don’t want to overlook that.”
Select Greater Philadelphia’s reach includes the city of Philadelphia, five Pennsylvania counties, five southern New Jersey counties and New Castle County, Del. The organization’s focus is not on convincing companies to relocate their headquarters, but rather asking a company to think strategically and expanding their footprint — and that the Philadelphia region is a gateway to go the distance.
Moyer’s office is focusing on how to best tell Cecil County’s story this year, and Cabrey provided some insight on how to make the county a compelling case for future businesses. Forty percent of the United States population is within a day’s drive of the Philadelphia region, and 60 percent are within flying distance.
Fifty-four million people live in that 200-mile radius, from New York City to Washington, D.C. Anecdotally, he commented that his hourlong drive from his Chester County, Pa., home to Cecil County that morning was the same amount of time it took for him to get to Philadelphia.
The average salary in the greater Philadelphia region is $52,000 a year, which is low compared to other areas. Cabrey looked at that as evidence that great talent can be found for a more affordable rate than elsewhere. In comparison to the Philadelphia region, cost of living is 25 percent higher in New York and 23 percent higher in Washington.
“The strategic location is really a distinguishing characteristic,” Cabrey said. “I actually call it a good luck situation, because we didn’t really pick this place. It’s where we are and who we are … When I used to go to Rockville [for work]. it was great being able to pop down there for meetings, and come back home to a beautiful community with great schools. The quality of life is really tremendous.”
Although Select Greater Philadelphia does not purely focus on the city, Cabery noted that the surrounding counties do reap the benefits of Philadelphia. The city’s population is growing for the first time in 60 years. Most of that growth can be attributed millennials, who look for affordability as they’re ready to settle down and opportunities to advance their careers.
EDC Chairman Michael Ratchford, whose company W.L. Gore & Associates is a member of Select Greater Philadelphia, commented that Cecil County’s rural charm could also provide millennials a fresh, alternative choice for weekend trips out of the city.
Speaking toward a talented workforce, Select Greater Philadelphia has 100 colleges and universities under its purview that serve as a pipeline for industries. Each year, these schools produce 90,000 graduates with either associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees.
As Cecil County brings major additions like Amazon, Lidl and Medline online, moving its sights to northern markets could have significant benefits, as it has a vast transportation network. Five international airports are within a 90-minute drive, including a temperature-controlled facility at Philadelphia International Airport for shipment of temperature-sensitive medical materials.
Three major shipping ports along the Delaware River are within Cecil County’s reach, which could help American and international companies reach new countries. Cabery noted that the Port of Philadelphia has a 700,000 squarefoot temperature-controlled warehouse to store produce whether it’s on a cargo ship or on an airport.
Two new ramps connecting Interstate 95 with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes have also recently opened up new pathways for the Philadelphia region market, and hopefully to Cecil County despite its own troubles with moving the I-95 tolls on the Hatem and Tydings bridge.
“We talk about us as gateway from the United States, and it’s the other way around as well,” Cabrey said. “Companies based in the West Coast, if they want to enter Europe, sometimes it’s better to have a gateway established here and use it as a launch pad.”
Danny DeMarinis, president of Northeastern Maryland University Research Park, asked about the process of becoming a member of Select Greater Philadelphia. Cabery said that his team would provide the data to tell the county’s story as well as working with Moyer’s office when a project wants to scope out Cecil County.
Ratchford added that it’s all about extending the county’s voice as a strong economic opportunity, as it has a lot to offer national and international businesses.
“Cecil County is not a island. One of our assets is location, location, location. We’re right in the middle of a 200mile market, and we got to think about it how businesses will look at [us] on a regional basis,” he said. “We have so much to offer.”
Council Vice President Dan Schneckenburger noted that Datwyler Sealing Solutions, which produces sealants and rubber materials for a variety of industries, was considering Cecil County before moving on to Middletown, Del., and questioned whether Select Greater Philadelphia would put them back on the map.
“It’s about awareness,” Cabrey said. “When there’s a lack of awareness, you may not even know what you’re missing.”
These 8-ounce blocks of Chesapeake Gold Cheese are lined up to be labeled at the Miller family farm on Dr. Miller Road near Rising Sun. The cheese is made with milk from the Golden Guernsey and Holstein cows on Chesapeake Gold Farms.